The Daily Gamecock

USC students feel safe on campus, worried by safety issues of surrounding Columbia area

An emergency callbox on Blossom Street in Columbia, SC on Sunday, March 20, 2022.
An emergency callbox on Blossom Street in Columbia, SC on Sunday, March 20, 2022.

While all students surveyed said they feel safe on campus, 19 out of 40 students The Daily Gamecock surveyed said they did not feel safe all the time off campus.

Living in Five Points or walking there at night was a major safety concern for eight students among those interviewed. 

Emma McManis, a first-year undeclared student, said she would feel safer while in the Five Points area if the emergency call boxes were extended into the downtown area.

“I live in Five Points," Kelly Brennan, a third-year political science, philosophy and criminal justice student, said. "And so, I definitely hear a lot of gunshots and stuff. And I don't necessarily feel safe all the time there. And I think that there's just like, I feel like the Columbia police focus more on underage drinking than they do crime controlling the city,”  

Other students also said they felt like Columbia police do not take them seriously. 

Taft Peck, a fourth-year political science student, said his house in downtown Columbia has been broken into twice. His laptop, AirPods and iPad were stolen, and his front window was shattered. While filing a report with the Columbia Police Department, he said he felt that because he is a student, he was not taken seriously.

“When the police showed up at my house, they didn’t care,” Peck said. “It seems to me the local PD loves to be really strict on college kids and stuff like that, but they just kind of let (crime) run rampant around the neighborhoods … I think if I was a 40-year-old with a family, they would’ve taken me a lot more seriously," Peck said.

Another student said they felt that Columbia police seem to not always prioritize students' safety.

“I feel like so many people are so scared of local police because they’re just associated with MIP’s, getting students in trouble,” Sarah Pilcher, a fourth-year psychology student said. “Instead of taking the initiative to be safer with local police, people are too scared … their priority doesn't always seem to be safety.”

Some students also said they're concerned there is not enough police presence on and around campus. Allie Scott, a third-year computer engineering student, said that a higher police presence would help students who are walking alone feel safer.

Mariana Heyel, a fourth-year marketing and entrepreneurial management student, said she would also like to see police patroling around Columbia more.

"It would be nice if you see a police officer while you're walking home alone at night," she said. "I don't see them too much."

Some students said they feel safe on campus because of the emergency call boxes located throughout the area. All of the students surveyed said they have not had any unsafe experiences while on campus.

However, the lighting is an issue and it is “kind of scary” walking around campus at night with few street lights, according to Elizabeth Hylton, a first-year biology student.

14 students said that their main safety precaution while traveling on and around campus was not walking alone. Pepper spray, tasers and talking on the phone while walking were other ways students make themselves feel safer. Most of the students interviewed said they take precautions to make themselves feel safer while on and off campus.